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Don’t be skeptical of vaccines

Eric Roddy

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Here’s a riddle. What’s clear, completely free at most places that offer it, and is still important to have enough of even though the hotter months are winding down? You got it–vaccinations.

Every year, we all see the same signs for free flu shots outside of CVS, and we probably all think the same things. Either, “Boy, that’s nice that those are free. I should probably get one,” or “I saw that video about vaccines. You couldn’t pay me to get one of those.” Fair enough. It’s your choice either way. You can take five minutes to run in and get a shot (it’s not that big of a needle–I promise) or you can take your chances. Just remember that if you’re feeling lucky, it’s also good to have a week’s worth of camping supplies because that’s pretty much what you’ll need if you get the flu.

A recent study found that our generation was more skeptical about vaccines than any other. There is also a bigger move towards holistic medicine than ever before. It seems that every week anti-vaxxers are on a news show talking about their friend’s cousin’s babysitter who knew a guy with a daughter who “caught” autism from a vaccine. Through propaganda like this, it can be extremely hard to sort through what one should believe. The ridiculous claims that these people make are scary enough to make one wonder. Does one illness outweigh another? There shouldn’t be a contest in the first place.

This limbo that we find ourselves in shouldn’t exist. Yet when it is propagated by presidential candidates from both parties, those with by far the most face time right now, the limbo becomes harder and harder to escape. Seriously, Ben Carson, a retired director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, seemed too afraid to step on Trump’s toes to put down his ridiculous anti-vaccination claims. And Hillary Clinton has met with anti-vaxxers on multiple occasions even though she claims to be a supporter of science. This isn’t an issue to dance around. We shouldn’t even give this issue the time of day. It can be difficult for students to take the time to discern what is factually right and wrong, and misleading headlines serve to muddy the water even more. This “mainstream health is not healthy” movement, as detrimental as it is, is just the flavor of the week. There are estimates that place the seasonal flu-related death toll as high as 49,000 people. I’m sure some of these could have been ruled out had the victims not been exposed to those who failed to get vaccinated. Although I think that the public will ultimately become more mindful of public health, I don’t think that the 49,000 people who die each year should have 
to wait.

Obviously, it wouldn’t be fair or practical to force everyone to get vaccinations, but there should be some kind of incentive system. We should do more as a campus to encourage students and faculty to take advantage of the health resources around us.

Vaccinations shouldn’t be an issue of personal liberty, and they definitely shouldn’t be an issue of false science. So to both the granola couple and to the most libertarian couple, lay down your weapons on this matter. To everyone else, if you’re skeptical about stopping by CVS or the Student Health Center to get your flu shot, don’t be.

Eric Roddy is a senior majoring in philosophy. His column runs biweekly.

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Don’t be skeptical of vaccines